Monday, June 12, 2017

The Great Arms Full of Bread Incident of 2017

My arms hurt from carrying a broken bag full of packaged bread and rolls, and I could feel myself sweating from hoofing it a half mile from the parking garage to the skyscraper where fifteen angel investors awaited their lunch and a possible future investment opportunity. I was late. 

I’ve always been optimistic about my abilities to make everything happen, and push things to the edge with frequency (less so recently). It’s a great quality, except when it’s not, like when I think I have an extra fifteen minutes to read useless news or Facebook posts, when I really should have my bags packed and already be at the elevator. 

Or when I think I'll have time to shave when I get to the hotel, but then decide to take a later train and go directly to the event, like today. I'm presenting, of course, so like it or not I'm going to be the unshaved entrepreneur. I hear half-beards are in, though I'm sure the investors will want to see a more buttoned up version of me. Maybe I can break the ice: "funny thing happened on the way to getting a shave in Midtown..."

The Great Arms Full of Bread Incident of 2017 happened when I was in New York in May to raise capital from angel investors for The Lancaster Food Company. I had decided there was enough time to drive over to Long Island City to leave bread for a distributor, and we need the business so yeah, let's do that. “Ok, twenty minutes to LIC—that’s easy,” I thought to myself. That meant twenty minutes back, of course.

Except this is New York, and there are rules, and the rule is you never go to Long Island City late morning and expect to get back to Manhattan anytime soon. 

It took at least an hour to get to Park Avenue, and traffic was at a standstill, so I dove into the first parking garage I could find, scrambled out of the car and grabbed a fragile paper shipping bag full of bread and rolls from the back--and dammit, I hadn't tested the bag, which promptly ripped in half. So I gathered what I could in my arms and fast-walked through midtown Manhattan, bread man walking.

I made it to the building about fifteen minutes late. They were eating lunch when I got there, and for some reason I was to join them, so I did but skipped the lunch--I was too nervous to eat, and I had to present to them in a half hour. I didn't want them to see me eating. I did fine--we raised some money and it worked out in the end--but it wasn't great. I hadn't slept well the night before, and, well, you know the rest. 

Today when I got to the New York Penn Station I made the calculation: it's 3:40 pm, taxi shifts end at 4 pm (or they used to) so it's a lot tougher to get a cab, I don't know the subway system anymore and need to make a quick decision--head to the hotel, head to Macy's to get a new belt because I've lost weight and my pants keep sliding down, or get a cab and head over early for the 6 pm start. I chose the last of these. Unshaven and giving in to it. 

Rewinding to the beginning of the day: I took my time getting up. Instead of shaving and showering, I took Bear to summer camp and went out for breakfast. I delayed leaving for the train to respond to employee emails, so I no longer had time to shave but I showered. Instead of getting the train, I decided I needed to see a few employees, so I went in to work, thinking I'll get a later train and head to the hotel to get ready. 

And so on, and so on. 

Each decision introduced risk to my main purpose for the day: get to New York and give a great presentation to investors who will subsequently drain their bank accounts to invest in the most amazing social impact company ever, ever, ever (a little confidence helps). 

What was different this time was I made it on time, well in advance. So now I can practice a bit, make sure my bit is under the 4-minute limit, review financials, take a deep breath or too, and Just.Sit.Tight. No wandering around the neighborhood. No quick bite at the corner. Reduce the risk, do a great job, don't worry about the stubble. 

You'll be fine, I say out loud. You're already good, as Jerry used to say to me. 

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